We know God wants everyone to come to Him (2 Peter 3:9), but that Satan uses lies and deception to keep them in sin (John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 4:4). However, does Satan really have the ability to get us to do the opposite of what we want? Or is his deception based on what we really want to believe and do anyway, and he just helps us move in the direction we have already chosen?
It’s not like we need a high level of intelligence or knowledge to come to Jesus for salvation (Galatians 3:28; 1 Corinthians 1:20,26). The truth is that the more ‘intelligent’ in the world’s way of seeing life people seem to be, the further from God they become.
The truth of the matter is that we choose what we want to believe rather than what we should believe, even in the face of strong evidence to the contrary (Luke 16:31). Many saw Jesus’ miracles yet rejected Him and “would not believe” (John 12:37). Their rejection was willful, by their own free choice.
Eve giving in to sin is the earliest example of how spiritual deception works. When the serpent asked her, “Did God really say . . . ?” Eve responded by quoting what God had said, although she added to the command (Genesis 3:1–3). She knew what to do and what not to do. The serpent then tempted her with what she could gain by eating from the tree (Genesis 3:4–5), and she noticed other attractive aspects of the fruit (Genesis 3:6). Eve was lied to, and the serpent was cunning (2 Corinthians 11:3), but she ultimately chose to disobey God, even though she knew His commandment.
Then when confronted by God, she excused her disobedience by saying “the serpent deceived me” (Genesis 3:13). The Hebrew word translated “deceived” implies trickery and craftiness. Yes, she was fooled, but still had a choice in the matter. She chose to reject God’s truth for the lies of the enemy, preferring to believe them instead of God. She had a free will and she used it. Satan didn’t force her to sin, nor did God force her not to sin. She chose what seemed to be most pleasing and beneficial to her. That’s what sin and temptation are all about today as well.
That’s still the way Satan and his demons work today. They appeal to our natural desires and urges, our sin nature. Our own desire for self-satisfaction sets us up for lies and deception and we take the bait. We always know right or wrong, obedience or disobedience, sin or righteousness.
God has sent the Savior (John 3:16). He fills the world with signs of Himself (Romans 1:20), He makes Himself available to those who seek Him (Deuteronomy 4:29), and He rescues anyone who comes to Him (John 6:37). When people reject what is “clearly seen” of God (Romans 1:20), it leads to a downward spiral of “foolish hearts” made dark (verse 21), idolatry (verse 23), and sexual impurity (verse 24). Finally, mankind “exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (verse 25). In other words, the spiritual deception of mankind is the direct result of rejecting readily apparent truth. The person has made an exchange—the truth for a lie—and the devil is happy to facilitate the swap by presenting the sinner with a wide variety of lies from which to choose.
When we decide God’s way is too hard or not the best for us, we open ourselves up to spiritual deception (2 Thessalonians 2:8-10). When we turn from truth, even ever so slightly, the door is open for lies and deception to rush in. And they do.
Eve didn’t sin because she was hopelessly outmatched by a demonic force, making her do wrong when she thought she was doing right. Yes, she was lied to, but she chose to listen to the lie. That was followed by her longing look at what was forbidden and, finally, her taking the fruit in hopes of a better life.
God is always very fair and never in any way forces us into a position where we must sin. Sin is always our own choice (1 Corinthians 10:13). Turning from truth opens us to lies, and lies have negative consequences. God allows these consequence so man will see their need to repent and turn back to Him. At least that’s how it is supposed to work. Does it work that way in your life?
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
In what areas of life are you most open to deception? Why? What truth do you need to remember to counter the deception?
What can you do to help someone you know who is giving in to deception?
Ask God to show you if there is any deception in your life you need to turn from right now.
Ask God to show you if someone you know is giving in to deception and to show you what you can do to help them.
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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